4th & Inches
Copyright/Publisher: Accolade, Designed By: Bob Whitehead, Music: Ed Bogas,
Release Year: 1987, Genre: American Football, Number Of Players: 1 or 2
Exciting grid-iron action in Accolade's superb American football simulation.
Those with a raging desire to run a QB Sneak, execute a Right Dog play or
pretend to be a refridgerator should find that Accolade's 4th & Inches fits the
bill. This latest version of the trans-Atlantic contact sport gives one or two
players the opportunity of manipulating the whole course of a game, from 1st and
10 to final whistle, and even overtime.
Before, a game, the play set-up is confirmed, designating the number of players,
team colour (red versus blue) and the length of each quarter, from 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
The main playing screen is divided into four sections: the field, the offensive
and defensive play selection boxes (coloured accordingly), plus a panel displaying
the down, number of yards remaining and the time. The action is displayed as a s
eries of single screens: when the ball reaches the edge of one screen it flicks
to the next.
Plays are selected Hardball-style, combining appropriate joystick actions
with the fire button. Three selections are made for each play, accessed from
separate menus which appear automatically.
The first meny details the team
formation available, the second liasts the accessible plays (running, kicking or passing)
and the final selection determines the position of the ball receiver in a
passing play, or the position of the player-controlled footballer in a running play.
Once the whole play has been determined, it runs automatically with the player
able to time the pass, guide the receiver, guide a pre-selecated defensive player
and time field goals or punts as necessary.
The controlled player is constantly
highlighted and during a defensive manoeuvre, (chasing an opposing player in
possession of the ball, for instance) control often changes to that player
closest to the ball.
At any time during the game, the Coaches' screen is accessed to show both team.
This enables the player to call time-outs, cheack player statistics and alter
the team line-up for different plays if needed.
Each position has a first and second
string player: the computer automatically selects first string players, but for
specialist situations (double tight end plays, for example) the second string players
are required. The statistics reveal height, weight, experience and the relative speed
and strength of each player.
The package's instructions detail the game's terminology, general rules and
provide a full run-down on the types of plays, player positions and tactics.
I enjoy watching the odd game of American football (4:00 Monday morning, Superbowl XXII!)
but don't really class myself as a devout fanatic. However, the scant knowledge
that I have of the game enabled me to enjoy 4th & Inches enormously.
the different plays (and there are plenty) and interacting within the action
as it unfolds is a genuinely exciting experience: on many occasions I found myself
screaming at my red player in possession of the ball, desperately trying to
urge him on as eleven blue shirrts came hurtling after him!
The mixture of calling tactical plays and effective hands-on control, make
4th & Inches really captivating to play, The graphic presentation is particularly
well executed and although small, the footballer sprites are neat, adequately
animated and extremely convincing.
The one single disappointing aspect of the whole program is the sound; the
jingles and effects effects are all bearable, but very poor, and do little to
increase the atmosphere. Even so, I can openly admit to playing 4th & Inches
more then any other game this month. If you like American football, sports
simulations, or just electrifying two-player action - 4th & Inches is a sure-fire
For the uninitiated, confusion will probably be the first reaction to 4th & Inches:
just playing the game without reading the instructions leads to some heavy defeats.
However, once you discover which moves to make and when to implement them, you
soon experience the satisfaction of your first touchdown.
The presentation is superb: helpful instructions, intelligent computer control,
touches of humour, access to player statistics and the ability to alter the
This attention to detail complements the appropriate if unspectacular graphical
and aural effects. The sprites are stocky and smoothly animated: the effect of ten
opponents thundering down on your man in possession is brilliant!
The sound effects are merely adequate, contributing atmosphere without embellishment
(the tune before plays is particularly neat), and a few 'hut, ht!' sounds would have
been welcome. Virtual freedom of movement is provided, giving a strong sense of
control over actions without proving too complex, and in two-player mode this
really comes into its own.
Flexible gameplay and superb presentation unite to create a realistic and enjoyable
simulation; whether or not you're a fan of the sport, 4th & Inches should provide
a great deal of long-term enjoyment.